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WWI U-Boat Campaign Centennial Event Set

Diamond Shoals Lightship LV-71 sank Aug. 6, 1918. Photo: Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

HATTERAS — The centennial of the World War I U-Boat Campaign off North Carolina’s Coast is to be commemorated with the opening of a new exhibit and a symposium Friday, Aug. 10, at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

The free symposium from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will feature divers, underwater archaeologists, scientists and historians sharing presentations on the LV-71, The Merak, The Mirlo and the U-Boats that patrolled the East Coast. CSPAN will film the symposium to be aired later.

Five large German submarines, or U-boats, crossed the Atlantic 100 years ago and operated against the lightly protected shipping off the North American coast.  Several of the U-boats would get as far south as the North Carolina coast, where they sank three ships just a few miles from the Outer Banks, according to a release from the museum.

The largest of these German submarines was the U-140, a U-cruiser designed to overwhelm merchant ships. The U-140 struck Aug. 6, 1918, the Light Vessel LV-71 Diamond Shoal.  There were no casualties. It later struck and sank the British tanker Mirlo Aug. 16, 1918.

“This WWI Symposium provides a unique opportunity for the maritime community to share their experience and knowledge about the German U-Boats off the coast of the Outer Banks,” said North Carolina Maritime Museums Executive Director, Joseph K. Schwarzer, said in a statement. “We are excited that CSPAN realizes the significance of these historic events and wants to come to Hatteras.”

The museum is at 59200 Museum Drive, Hatteras.

Symposium Schedule

  • 10-10:50 a.m. “The First Wave: U-Boats in Foreign Waters 1914-1918” with Michael Lowrey, from the uboat.net website. He will describe Germany’s decision to develop true ocean-going submarines during the Great War and the use of these vessels through mid-1918.
  • 11-11:50 a.m. “U-Cruisers on the Coast: Germany Attacks US Waters in 1918” by Paul Hodos, author of a book on German U-boats off the US coast in 1918 titled “The Kaiser’s Lost Kreuzer.”
  • 1-1:50 p.m. “LV-71 Diamond Shoals” with Capt. Dave Sommers, who will discuss this history, the sinking and take attendees on a virtual dive to the LV-71, 200 feet deep off the Diamond Shoals.
  • 2-2:50 p.m. “Into the Burning Sea—The 1918 Mirlo Rescue” by Kevin Duffus, author of six books on the state’s maritime history spanning 500 years.
  • 3-3:50 p.m. “The U-Boat Menace: Interactions Off North Carolina During the First World War” by Janie R. Knutson
  • 4-4:50 p.m. “Ho, For a Raid on Uncle Sam!” From Lowell Thomas, “Raiders of the Deep” by Dr. Gary E. Weir, Chief Historian, NGA. Weir will explore the operations of German U-boats off the American coast in the later years of the Great War.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.